Writing the Cozy Mystery by @_NancyRadke

I had written what I thought was a cozy mystery in my Sisters of Spirit series, entitled Stolen Secrets. So before writing Any Lucky Dog Can Follow a Trail of Blood, a cozy mystery for the Diehard Dames series, I reviewed what constituted a cozy mystery to see how close I came.

Cozy Mystery

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Cozy mysteries have a theme, showing a level of expertise.

In Stolen Secrets, the hero has a computer security company that the heroine, Angie, learns about. In my Lucky Dog series, the heroine, Jenna, is an expert on the Lewis and Clark Expedition, traveling around the county with Lucky, her dog, to check out artifacts, while the hero is a big city detective, transplanted to a rural county. He needs her knowledge of the people and the county to solve the mysteries.

Cozy mysteries are often set in a small community or rural setting.  

Stolen Secrets is set in a houseboat community on Lake Union in Seattle. The houseboat people include a wise old grandmother that the hero, Ryan, helps. Angie stays at the elderly woman’s home. In my Lucky Dog series, the setting is a small town in a rural county. The people in the town and county can all be suspects.

Cozy mysteries involve a middle-aged heroine.

Oops, missed this one on Stolen Secrets. Angie is twenty-two, a former Olympic gymnast left homeless by a series of happenings. Ryan gives her both a job and a place to stay, giving her back her self-respect. In Any Lucky Dog Can Follow a Trail of Blood, both Jenna and Craig are in their thirties. Craig really likes his best friend’s wife. And he doesn’t think he find anyone for himself. Jenna has male friends, but none she wants to get serious with.

Cozy mysteries are G-rated.

That’s the only type of book I write, so both fit this criteria.

Cozy mysteries are usually part of a series.  

Stolen Secrets is linked to several other books through the characters, including Courage Dares, Tennessee Touch, and A Tennessee Christmas. Of these, Tennessee Touch is the one with the most mystery in it, as the group try to figure out who is killing pro-football players. Any Lucky Dog Can Follow a Trail of Blood is the first of the Lucky Dog series, which is part of the brand new Authors’ Billboard Diehard Dames cozy mystery series.

Diehard Dames

The Diehard Dames first set, now available, is Murder Is to Die For. Here’s a sample of Any Lucky Dog Can Follow a Trail of Blood, which is in that set. Jenna has found a dead body at the top of Lone Willow’s Trail and called for the sheriff.

Excerpt:

“Are you all right?” Sheriff Craig asked, bending over to check on her. “It’s hard for anyone to sit with a dead body.”

Jenna was glad that he realized it. She was still sitting on the ground where her weak legs had dumped her. “Sort of.”

He touched his hand to her shoulder. “Do you need help getting up?”

“Not really.” But it would be nice. Maybe she did need help. She hadn’t tried to stand up yet.

He must have heard her thoughts, or else from experience knew that a woman sitting on the ground near a body was there because her legs wouldn’t support her. He put his hands under her arms and lifted her up, holding her long enough that she could gain her balance and stand on her own. He left one hand on her shoulder, maintaining contact.

“Thank you,” she said, and meant it. She took hold of his arm while she kept her face averted from where the forensic team was working. He must think her pretty weak, to react in such a way. She was somewhat ashamed of herself. Farm folks were supposed to be tougher than this.

She liked holding onto his arm. He had rolled up his sleeves almost to the elbows, leaving his forearms bare. They reminded her of her father’s, who had been a strong, healthy man before he’d been killed by a falling tree. Sheriff Craig was a solid figure of a man, and his arm offered the support she needed right now.

But she had to let go so he could do his job, and she did so reluctantly, silently chiding herself for needing his support. She wasn’t a child.

But he didn’t step away, just stood there next to her, his hand still on her shoulder, and his very presence gave her strength. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Nodded as she began to feel stronger.

“Okay, now?” he asked, still not moving.

“Yes. I don’t want to keep you from your work.”

“They work fine without me.” He motioned toward the forensic team and stayed where he was, his concern clearly readable on his face. “I’ll talk to you more, get your statement, once you’re really ready.”

Wasn’t that now? But no, she was still very upset. He had gaged her feelings better than she had. She closed her eyes, struggling to gain control of her emotions.

One of the forensic men straightened up and shook his head. “Shouldn’t there be some shotgun pellets in the fence post?” he asked the team leader. “I mean, given the angle?”

The leader, Lance Newman, nodded. “This isn’t adding up, Craig,” he called out. “There should be a lot more blood here.” He turned to the other three members of his team. “That means we need to be even more careful collecting the data. Step back, re-asses the situation and assume this wasn’t an accident.” He put a lot of emphasis on the word, “wasn’t.”

 


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About Nancy Radke

A USA Today bestselling author, Nancy Radke grew up on a wheat and cattle ranch in SE Washinton State. She attended a one-room country school through the eighth grade. She learned to ride bareback at age 3 (Really! It was a common practice.) and when she got off or fell off, she would pull her horse's nose to the ground, get on behind its ears, and the horse would lift its head so she could scoot down onto its back. Nancy spent most of her childhood exploring the Blue Mountain trails that bordered the ranchlands. She and a friend once took a trail that turned out to be a two day trip. They always rode with matches and pocket knives, so made camp and returned the next day. These long rides worried her parents, but provided plenty of time to make up stories. Her first novel was set in the Blues, and is entitled APPALOOSA BLUES. TURNAGAIN LOVE was the first one published. It rated a four star review from Affaire de Coeur. Scribes World said "Turnagain Love has some fascinating twists and turns, unexpected complications, and charming scenes." It is light and humorous. Nancy currently has over 30 books written, both modern and western. All her stories are sweet and wholesome.  View website

2 Replies to “Writing the Cozy Mystery by @_NancyRadke”

  1. Thanks, Rachelle. The hardest part about writing a mystery is keeping the culprit hidden, yet dropping clues. Since I’m a pantser, meaning I don’t do much plotting, I often decide who is guilty when I reach the end of the book. That keeps me from over-hinting.

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